Hungover for the
By Denis Faye
From the Million Dollar Body Club - Join Today and Workout to
Woe to those who
rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; who stay late
into the night, until wine inflames them!Isaiah 5:11
Poets have waxed about it,
scientists have studied it, and dictators have made massive tactical mistakes
under its influence. The hangover. In a word, yuck! But what causes a
hangoverand how do you get rid of it? Let's dig a little deeper into the
science of the morning after and try to offer a few solutions to this red-eyed,
What causes a hangover?
The short answer is,
obviously, alcohol, which is poison to the human body. Kind of like the diet
version of polonium-210, only your hair doesn't fall out and it takes much
longer to kill you.
The long answer to what causes a
hangover is a little more complex.
First, there's dehydration.
Ethanol, the alcohol in alcohol, is a diuretic. When you drink it, it tells
your brain to tell your kidneys to dump water instead of reabsorbing it. As the
urine leaves your body, it takes vitamins, minerals, and blood sugar with
Dehydration gives you dry mouth
and contributes to the fatigue, vomiting, and headache. According to a study
published by the International Journal of Sports Medicine, dehydration
actually causes your brain to shrink away from your skull slightly. Ouch.
Ethanol causes capillaries,
including those in your noggin, to dilate. This makes your headache even worse
and explains why some people flush red when on the hooch.
The fatigue occurs
not only because of the aforementioned tapped blood sugar, but also due to lack
of quality sleep. As we all know, you do indeed sleep after a night of heavy
boozing, but it's not complete sleep. You tend to skip the rapid eye movement,
or dream, phase of the cycle, which is crucial to both physical and emotional
Other instruments in the
hangover symphony of pain are the congenersbyproducts of the fermentation
process such as methanol. Basically, they're additional poisons. Red wine, in
particular, is rife with congeners, which explains why it has such a reputation
as a skull-buster. Conversely, vodka and gin tend to be purer, which has earned
them a reputation for just the opposite.
For more about which alcoholic
beverages will cause you the most and least pain, check out Steve Edwards'
Best and 5 Worst Cocktails.
There are many, many other
theories about what causes hangovers, but I've tried to keep it simple because
how hangovers, are caused isn't the most important topic here. The most
important topic is . . .
How to get rid of a
answer is this: you can't. There are, of course, steps you can take to
alleviate the symptoms, but ultimately you just need to wait it out. Drink
water to fight dehydration. Eat nutrient-rich foods to restore vitamins,
minerals, and blood sugar. Sleep helps with fatigue. Take an aspirin for a
headachebut avoid acetaminophen, or Tylenol, which can be tough on the liver.
Alcohol disrupts acetaminophen metabolism, thus aggravating the situation.
There are quite a few B-12
supplements out there that supposedly fight hangovers, but B-12 depletion is
just a minor part of a larger nutrient depletion problem, so they don't really
help that much. You're better off with some fresh fruit, so you're getting
nutrients that can be more easily absorbed and you're fighting blood sugar
depletion and dehydration at the same time. As for the old hair of the dog,
you're not really fixing the problem; you're just putting it off.
Hangover prevention is the best
Before you drink,
eat a solid meal. Any food will slow the absorption of alcohol into your
system, although fatty foods take longer to digest, so they stick around to do
the job longer. Once you start drinking, pace yourself. A great way to do this
is to alternate water/cocktail/water/cocktail, slowing down alcohol intake and
maintaining hydration at the same time. When the evening is through, finish off
with another glass of H20.
But before putting these plans
into effect, ask yourself one thing. Do you need to drink this much? Do you
think you can still have fun if you settle for just a couple glasses of
Beaujolais? And for those of you trying to lose weight, is knocking back two
days' worth of calories in a couple hours really worth it?
Sure, there are times where
drunkenness sneaks up on you, but for the most part, it's a question of asking
whether the night's jubilations warrant the morning's pain.
For more about
imbibing and why water's more than just a mixer, check out "10
Reasons Why You Need to Drink Water" and "Wine or Beer:
Which Is Better for You?"